My House’s Ants / Rosa María Rodríguez Torrado

Tambochas are carnivorous ants, feared for their venom, resembling a wingless wasp that has a green body and a red head. Their relatives, the termites, seized my home a while back.

My house was built from precious woods and had a solid structure and architectural design that stood out in the urban environment. Over the years, I have tried various methods to eradicate these destructive occupants, but the methods have been useless. Some beams have already given way to the constant piercing of the insects and of the passage of time. I ask for advice to remedy my case, while the property is in a state of deterioration, so much that I am afraid the breakdown is irreversible. I don’t know if the ones that dominate my floor, roof and walls, are of the neoptera or arthropod family, if they’re termites, tambochas, or a hybrid of both, but in any case I will continue combating them to see if I can at least neutralize the plague that has seized my house since 1959.

Translated by: Alicia Fremling, Josephine Larke

October 31 2011

Suspicions / Regina Coyula

Basura en una esquina de la céntrica calle ReinaI think a new epidemic of dengue fever is upon us. Numerous rains in the last few days and the health messages have already started: wash your hands well, don’t greet people with kisses, don’t stay in enclosed or poorly ventilated locations. The Public Health inspectors insist on reviewing even me; I don’t have spiritual vases, I don’t have tanks, I don’t have aquatic plants, the water tray on my refrigerator has a drain… The Family Doctor–on Sunday!–visited house by house and warned that if anyone became feverish, they should see him without fail. The fumigation, of which my dog and my husband’s cat are terrified, on alternate days for a week. All of this speaks to the preoccupation about health, but why don’t they clearly say it? The doctor was evasive, but he was working on his day of rest.

Furthermore (above all), the hygienic situation of the city, the one that counts on community service to run, is a disaster, the pockmarks left behind by poor paving, and the holes of the shoddy work done by Havana Water Department or the Sewers make ideal surroundings. The fight against dengue fever cannot be won by invading privacy. The terms of battle, war, and combat are fashionable. A task that, like everything else in this country, prioritizes the urgent over the important. A higher cost, we are used to it.

Translated by: Josephine Larke & Erico el Rojo

October 24 2011

The Machine of Time / Angel Santiesteban

It’s been a few days since I got to chat with a Uruguayan man who announced to me “I hate Fidel.” And, after we exchanged a few lines, he informed me: “I won’t got to Cuba until the era of the Castros and their communism is over.” I assured him that he would lose the opportunity to get to know, with his own eyes, a unique experiment that maybe won’t be repeated in the history of humanity.

He assured me: “If I go to Cuba they would catch me because I’m opposed to the system and I make that public.” I again affirmed that it would be another good experience in that there was a big chance that he wouldn’t have the opportunity… He was surprised by my response and he wrote it down so that I could reread it and, sure of myself, correct my mistake. And I again reaffirmed it… After a space of silence he responded: “I prefer Cancun.”

Surely he went away with the suspicion that I am a maniac or sadomasochist who encouraged him towards suffering. To finish, I assured him that what he would come to know was that my reality is my problem. Especially knowing that those who govern my country for last fifty years, instead of peace, planted guerrillas in Latin America, that didn’t serve any purpose but to augment the pain of its nations. In this case the Tupamaros were made to follow Raul Sendic, or the Montoneros in Argentina, and the Che’s disaster in Bolivia, and that of the guerilleros in El Salvador, who because of so much killing assassinated each other, like the agent, combatant and poet Roque Dalton. And we continue in Brazil, Nicaragua, Colombia, Venezuela, and many more, in some places with worse results than in others.

One wick that we burned and that lasted several decades until thousands were left dead in the confrontation, and later we didn’t move a finger to stop the slaughter.

In any case, if I were able to put myself in the place of the Uruguayan, here is what I would have liked to have heard. Because if I had the opportunity to enter and leave the scenes, like in a play at the theater, according to the circumstances, I would have spent a few hours or days with the Jews in the concentration camps during World War II. I would have spent my weeks accompanying Mohandas Gandhi. I would have entered the rescue of Paris with Hemingway. Or I would have been in the reunion of La Mejorana, waiting for the dawn to accompany Jose Martí to Dos Ríos and die at his side.

It’s true, the responsibility falls to the Cubans. All we have to do is take it. Affecting a reality that they have stolen from us. Let every minute carry with it the grief and agony of millions of compatriots who cry out Freedom.

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats

Translated by: Josephine Larke

October 21 2011